“There is a large number of such migrants who do not possess any card. Their above disability is due to their poverty and lack of education. The State cannot abdicate its duty towards such persons, especially in the wake of the pandemic where large numbers of migrant workers are not able to get jobs which may satisfy their basic needs,” a Supreme Court Bench observed on 29 June 2021. The Bench set 31 July as the deadline for the Centre and the States to ensure their “bounden duty” that none among the estimated 38 crore migrant workers, who form one-fourth the country’s population, goes hungry during the pandemic. These workers too have made “considerable contributions” to the country’s growth and economic development.
Right to food, one of the “bare necessities of life”, was an intrinsic part of the right to live with dignity, the Bench told the government.
The Bench slammed the Labour Ministry for its “unpardonable apathy” in not completing the work of the Rs 45.39-crore National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portal to register and identify migrant workers and unorganised labourers to ensure their rights, welfare and food security. The Bench further observed that observed, “The Ministry is not alive to the concerns of the migrant workers. The non-action of the Ministry is strongly disapproved”.
The Supreme Court also on 30 June 2021 pulled up the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), of which the Prime Minister is the ex officio chairperson, for “failing to perform its duty” to recommend ex gratia assistance for families of those who lost their loved ones to the Covid-19 pandemic.
(source: The Hindu 30-06-21)